8/05/2009

Bribery in Congress

I'm going to make a bold statement. It's one that people keep hinting at but no one is willing to come right out and say it.

Our Congress is accepting bribes to work against the public good.

They like to call these "campaign contributions" but they're bribes, pure and simple. They are given in exchange for the politician doing something for the business interest. Sure, those who don't get much in "contributions" manage to stand up to those industries, but the bigger the payment, the better the shill.

Let's look at our Congressmen and Senators from Arizona who are working against healthcare reform and attacking a public option like they are rabid coyotes.

Leading the pack is Senator John McCain. McCain's "Plan" is to give you a "tax credit" that would then be sent directly to your insurance company (i.e., his employer) in the amount of $2500 to $5000 to pay for your yearly premium. If it's more than that, so sorry. You're on your own. He also would like you to get most of your routine care not at your doctor's office but rather at your local drugstore's "walk in clinic" where you would be forced to pay cash on the barrel head rather than use your insurance. How's that for "quality of care"? And if the sub-par care at the Walgreen's means you get misdiagnosed with a chest cold instead of lung cancer, too bad, McCain's plan includes a law to stop medical malpractice suits. Maimed, mutilated or killed by a crappy doctor? You're out of luck and he still gets paid.

What does McCain get for this abortion of a plan? John McCain, senior senator from Arizona has taken a grand total of $7,382,107 in the 2010 election runup alone. That's in addition to the almost $9 million he has received in the past 10 years. Coincidence?

How about Senator Jon Kyl? Kyl's "plan" is to do nothing. Just keep people from suing and get rid of some of those people on Medicare and Medicaid. We'll be fine. No need to change anything. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

What does Kyl get for doing everything he can to stop healthcare reform in its tracks? This election cycle alone Kyl has taken $1,188,238! Over his illustrious career he's pocketed $1,983,468 from the healthcare industry.

Let's contrast and compare those numbers. Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat and a "Blue Dog" who is "leaning no" on reform took nearly $19,000 so far this year from Health Industry Lobbyists. Over her entire career that haul has been around $62,000! Sure, she's a little cheaper, but she's still doing the job she's paid to do. Is the "lean" just an attempt to extort more money from the industry before she commits to outright obstructionism?

Republican Trent Franks has done a lot better than Kirkpatrick at the Health Care trough. He's hauled in $108,420 in healthcare bribes over his career. He's only gotten $7,000 so far for his 2010 campaign though. Oops! But, then again, his opposition to reform has more to do with trying to make sure abortion becomes illegal than anything else. I'm sure those pro-life bribes will make up the difference.

Republican John Shadegg has received $908,125 from the Health Care Industry throughout his career. That's $12,000 this cycle alone. What has that $12K bribe gotten them? A guy spinning a tale that a "public option" would mean people wouldn't survive cancer. Unfortunately, he hasn't answered how people who are denied insurance by his employers are surviving cancer.

Democrat Ed Pastor, who amazingly seems to support a public option has received a total of $135,996 from the Health Care Industry over his career. But, they're really punishing him for not carrying their message this year. They only gave him $2,000 for his 2010 campaign. In other words, since he isn't doing their bidding they're going to try to wreck his next campaign and probably bribe his opponent.

Democrat Harry Mitchell has gotten $120,75 from the Health Industry during his career. Mitchell has been "supporting" reform as long as it doesn't do much in the way of "reform." In particular he has opposed a public option that would actually create real competition for multi-billion dollar insurers. What has Harry botten this year in return for his opposing a public option? $12,500 from the Health Industry. (Seeing a pattern yet?)

Republican Jeff Flake has managed to scoop up $96,640 in Health Care Industry bribes in his career. He's been a big fearmonger about any type of reform from a fiscal standpoint saying it will destroy small business. Really, Jeff? Of course, those same old song GOP arguments don't get you on national TV or scare the retirees that Obamas evil robots will come get them. Jeff has only managed to get a measly $2,000 this year - so far. Of course, Jeff has already been purchased by the Real Estate and Finance sector to the tune of $660,641!

Democrat Gabrielle Giffords is a Blue Dog Democrat. Recently, she showed signs she would support the public option. Over her career she has received $264, 270 from Health Care interests. This year while she was on the fence she received $3,500. Did she not get enough and changed her view or was it just money not well spent by the Health Care industry?

So, as you can see, there is a lot of money changing hands over Health Care Reform. The people who are getting left out of all this are the people who pay exorbitant premiums or who are denied care because they are actually sick. The people who are worried about how to get the most routine tests to detect cancer or other life threatening illnesses are not being represented in this sea of bribery and graft going on in Washington. It's mind boggling to think that the letter you may have just gotten from your insurance company informing you that your last doctor visit wasn't covered actually means that the money you paid in premiums to cover that visit just got handed to a Senator or Congressman so he or she would make sure you weren't provided with that care in the future. That is the moral failing in all this!

To my liberal friends I say this: Get up off your asses. The health care industry and ultra right wing PAC's have hired the likes of Freedomworks to astroturf an "opposition" to reform and a public option. They are turning out their usual idiots and crazies to make sure our voices are never heard in this debate.

Yet, while they take over town halls and stage fake protests, we sit around watching Jon Steward and bellyaching.

A couple weeks ago, just before the Astroturfed protests began, I placed a new "group" on Facebook asking people to volunteer to protest outside the offices of Senators and Representatives opposed to a public option. In the days since, I have actually only gotten a handful of people interested in doing anything or trying to make our voice heard. Instead, all I hear are complaints and liberals obsessing over Orly Taitz and her photoshopped birth certificate. What is wrong with people on our side of this debate?

If you think that the billionaires are going to let this pass, you are dead wrong. Unless we make our voices heard and those in Congress taking the bribes understand they will be held accountable for their actions, we will see a repeat of history and more people will be uninsured tomorrow, more people will die at the doors of hospitals and more people will become homeless because they must choose living in a box or not living at all.

So, are you going to keep talking about Orly Taitz or are you going to get up off your ass and do something?

*Information on contributions available at Opensecrets.org.

**The reason you don't see Raul Grijalva in there is he is the only Arizonan who has expressed his support of the public option unconditionally and vowed to vote against ANY bill that does not contain a public option.


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